I first met the extraction artists of District Greenhaus at the Capitol Canna Show. Impressed with the clarity of the sample shatter V2Chao showed me, I was sure a sit-down would prove enlightening. It was a warm day, the clouds filtering out the bright summer sun, so we sat outside on benches in Takoma to talk about how they turn green into gold.
“You can’t cut corners,” is the first thing SchmaddaKid said to me after we dispensed with the introductions, and District Greenhaus’ commitment to quality was clearly evident throughout our chat and in the results of their labor.
Cannabis enthusiasts and friends since their days at Blair High School in Silver Spring, the passing of Initative 71 spurred these local entrepreneurs to leap headfirst into the emerging concentrate market with the purchase of a professional, closed-loop system that features a dry ice extractor column, along with a vacuum oven.
GT: What did that set you back?
SK: $15,000 for the closed-loop. Another $5,000 for the vacuum oven.
SK: Yeah. You gotta have the real vacuum oven, too, some people try to use a pan with a lid and a vacuum pump. A proper vacuum oven is critical in order to keep the temperature constant during purging.
V2: We started with open blasting, but the closed-loop is much safer, no explosive solvent in the atmostphere.
GT: How does this process work, exactly? Dumb it down for me, I’m a writer.
V2: Basically, it’s a three-step process. First Soak the material in solvent, we use n-butane. Then De-wax it, then Purge the extract in the vacuum oven.
SK: The Dry Ice remove extractor column is the key to De-wax properly. It’s kept at least 30 degrees below zero, at which point the waxes and lipids from the plant condense and can be filtered out of the final product.
V2: The whole thing takes about 3 hours, then 2-3 days in the oven.
GT: Did you all work at an extraction company, or how did you learn how to use it?
V2: No. We both learned by starting with open blasting outside and quickly decided to purchase a safer closed-loop system. The company had me out for training, and that gave us a starting point for learning more. The challenge when we first started was learning how to extract as much concentrate as we expected from the starting material.
SK: There was a learning curve, definitely. There are many places where an incorrect process can yield either inferior product or low yields. Those little tricks can really only be learned by trial and error.
GT: How much material do you need to do a run?
V: At least half a pound.
GT: (Frowny-face as I realize I will not be able to get enough dispensary trim to run) And what kind of returns could I expect?
SK: The return depends greatly on the quality of the starting material. Nug-run, around 15-20%.
V2: It can go as low as 8% for trim.
GT: Can you tell how well the material is going to perform before running it?
V2: Oh, definitely. We’ll evaluate it and let you know up front how we think it will run.
SK: Our biggest challenge now is finding enough quality cannabis to feed the machine.
V2: Yeah. We have done live resin, too, with fresh frozen material instead of cured material.
GT: What’s your split from a run?
GT: Cool. Why did you get into concentrates? It’s not that big of a thing out here yet as it is out West.
V2: I showed SchmaddaKid it was the future of the industry.
SK: He lit a joint and blew the smoke into a paper towel. It got dingy and yellow. Then he took a dab and did the same thing. It was clear through the towel. Clean.
V2: He doesn’t even smoke flowers anymore.
SK: True. It’s just more convenient. You can take it to concerts or enjoy a waxpen out in public without a problem.
GT: I agree. So what strains do you guys like to smoke?
V2: I really like this Em-Dog I’ve got now. It’s bred by B.Real’s (of Cypress Hill fame) company, Dr. Greenthumb.
SK: I go more for the trippy, head-high sativas, but I’m not picky. I like 707 Headband.
GT: Cannabis pioneers are blazing new trails daily. What are you excited about seeing in the future of our industry?
SK: To see cannabis treated like wine, with similar menus explaining the terrains in which it was grown and terpenes expressed. Blends of the year.
V2: Oh, yeah, I’m excited about what we can do by blending oils together instead of breeding plants to get the combination of cannabinoids and terpenes you’re looking for.
If you’re interested in turning your trim, cured flowers, or fresh-frozen flowers into top quality concentrate, I highly recommend you check out District Greenhaus.